BrainStorm BPM Day 1: Peter Gilbertson

Peter Gilbertson is a  senior business analyst at CUNA Mutual, and his session was on Talking Process to Executives: Process, Tools and Techniques to Sell your BPM Project, which is about how to “sell” your BPM project to the people who write the cheques. Although he’s looking at it as an internal person selling to his own executives, I’m often in the position of helping people like him create exactly this sort of rationale to carry up the food chain and thought that it would be worthwhile to hear what they did.

He started by talking about their business review process, which is not really specific to BPM projects:

  • Build the business model, especially important for communication and education because they had a whole crop of new executives from the insurance industry, whereas CUNA deals with both insurance and investment products.
  • Determine industry benchmarks, by identifying key “success levers” and comparing themselves with their competitors.
  • Document core processes, which is where a lot of people start; Gilbertson felt that if they hadn’t done the first two steps, then the core processes wouldn’t have made sense to the executives.
  • Develop performance measures, but took the usual tabular data views of things such as customer service metrics and converted them to graphs to make the business health and trends more obvious.
  • Determine gaps, which they did using a pipe analogy: there were spots where the pipe leaked, or wasn’t big enough, or didn’t fit with other pipes. I liked the analogy, and Gilbertson said that it was immediately obvious to the executives and allowed them to move easily into process improvement specifics.
  • Develop strategy, again using an analogy: “shoot the moon” with a space shuttle and booster rocket visual. In order to show how the decisions were derived, they also created a decision tree to show the path to the strategy recommendations.
  • Create plan, which is the detailed execution plan and timelines.

He summed it up in his top 10 tips:

  • Start at 10,000 feet and parachute down
  • Show “industry standard” business models
  • Focus on (and show how) the customer gets served
  • Explain how you make money
  • Walk through high level processes
  • Pinpoint areas for improvements
  • Use visual (e.g., graphs, charts, pictures, etc.)
  • Use consultants or industry experts to build credibility [I liked this one 🙂 ]
  • Create a detailed plan to execute project
  • Continually communicate, educate and position the project

This was really about how to present the material to executives, with very little on how to create the material, but there were some good points: use visual analogies where appropriate, feed them small bits of information at a time, and show why and how that the decisions are being made.

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